Daily Fix, Feb 28

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Medicaid reform, pension reform, hairstyle reform. Turns out it’s Dan Liljenquist day on the Daily Fix.

*The National Governor’s Association met last week and one major topic of discussion was Medicaid reform, specifically block grants. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said “I’d love to have a block grant so we can make adaptation state by state.” Mississippi’s Haley Barbour told reporters he would take a capped blocked grant in return for true flexibility. Utah’s Senate Bill 180 is Utah’s Medicaid reform bill and is based on a block granting process. It is expected to pass without difficulty. Politico

*The NGA also wants the ability to trim Medicaid recipients from their rolls. In recent years, Medicaid has grown into one of largest payers in the health system, accounting for 17% of all hospital spending. In 2000, Medicaid spending was $187 billion nationally. That figure rose to $346 billion in 2009. In Utah, our Medicaid expenses have doubled in the last ten years. Governors across the board are also very worried about 2014, when the implementation of Obamacare will add millions more to Medicaid rolls. The last time there were big changes to the social safety net was in the mid-1990s. Since then, federal social programs have tended to grow, not shrink, including a big expansion of drug benefits signed by President George W. Bush. Wall Street Journal

*Continuing with news about Medicaid reforms, Senator Dan Liljenquist just spent some time with former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt discussing that very subject. Speculation about other potential topics of conversation abounded at the Washington county Lincoln Day breakfast. According to a Trib article, “what seems to set [Liljenquist] apart is that he is a policy wonk. He is a numbers guy. And he even gets excited about it.” Tribune

*The New York Times recently interviewed Utah state Senator Dan Liljenquist about Utah’s pension reforms. As states face trillions in unfunded pension liabilities, more and more are turning to solutions like Utah passed last year. Those changes moved workers away from guaranteed pension plans and toward 401(k)-type retirement savings plans, also known as defined contribution plans. According to the Times, “The governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, citing dire budget problems, are engaged in bitter showdowns with public-employee unions over wages, pensions and collective bargaining rights.” Utah’s reforms are now considered model legislation across the country. NY Times

*The Wall Street Journal is also covering pension reform today. They discuss Utah and Michigan, who launched hybrid plans for new employees, combining a 401(k)-type component for new hires with a guaranteed benefit for employees already in the system. According to the article, Michigan officials estimate the switch to a hybrid plan will save the state’s public-school system between $2 million and $4 million in fiscal year 2011 and between $200 million and $400 million over 10 years and in Utah, projections are that the state will save $5 million a year for every 1,000 new employees, potentially bringing $180 million in savings by 2018. Wall Street Journal

*SB1000 is a Senate bill getting a fair amount of attention lately. Fox 13 covered it recently and conducted their own unscientific poll on which direction the vote should go. It’s a bill to choose Senator Liljenquist’s grown-up hairstyle. Whatta ya think? George Clooney? Brad Pitt? Leave the same? Fox 13

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One Response to “Daily Fix, Feb 28”

  1. John Says:

    So…. rumor has it you’re raising taxes on food?

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